Four Questions That Determine Who Takes Care Of Student Loans After Divorce

Student loans are some of the biggest debts young couples have when divorcing. If you have such a debt and you are headed for divorce, you are probably wondering whether the divorce court will direct your partner to help repay the loans. Unfortunately, there isn't a single answer to that question; but it may depend on the answers to these four questions:

When Did You Incur the Loan?

This is one of the primary concerns since, like any other debt, student loans taken before marriage are the responsibility of the individual who took them. Therefore, if you took the debt before marriage, you are likely to be responsible for paying it, and if you took it after tying the knot, it's more likely to be divided between you and your partner.

Where Do You Live?

If you incurred the loans during your marital years, then they could be considered marital debt and be shared between the two of you. How they are shared is a matter of state law, which is why your jurisdiction matters. If you are in a community state, then your debt will (theoretically) be split in a 50/50 manner between you and your spouse. If you are in an equitable-division state, then your debt will still be split between the two of you, but just not in a 50/50 manner.

In an equitable-division state, the court will take into account other circumstantial issues such as your respective abilities to settle the debt. For example, if your partner has an extremely high income as compared to yours, then they may be tasked with paying a greater portion of your student loans.

What Does Your Prenuptial Agreement Say?

If you handled the issue in a prenuptial agreement, then the court will direct both of you to respect the agreement. This might be the case, for example, if you and your partner agreed that you would take student loans to get a postgraduate degree after tying the knot and that both of you would repay the loans in a 50/50 manner. In this case, the court will direct you to do exactly as you agreed to do.

Did the Education Benefit Both of You?

Lastly, the court may take into account how the education benefited the marriage when determining who is to pay for it. As a rule, anything that benefits both couples in marriage is considered a marital affair. Take an example where you completed your degree early in your marriage, got a job, and use your earnings for family or marital expenses. In this case, your student loans may be viewed as marital debts since they (indirectly via your education) benefited both of you. As a marital debt, both of you will be on the hook for repaying it.

For more information, contact a divorce attorney at a law firm such as Kalamarides & Lambert.